I finished this chapter ages ago and even jotted down notes on my iphone but then forgot to post.
Starting out this wasn’t hard to read. Especially after the last chapter. It’s a mad mad mélange of Macbeth and Moulin Rouge – with seamy underworld, prostitutes and caberet and a hint of witches.
Here I can see why Ulysses proved so controversial with the church and was banned. From the depths of Bloom’s mind we get a series of detailed sexual fantasies that makes one think how little pornography has changed and yet how inventive it is. It reminds me of something our much revered Lit prof said once with a smirk: You people think you’ll invented sex, don’t you?
In addition, all Bloom’s fears, doubts and insecurities are aired as well as his deepest dreams of success and recognition.
I was struck but the appearance of dogs – beagle, spaniel, retriever – in this chapter. They seem to be symbols of stray and rejected life, much like the detritus that populates the red light area.
I suddenly realised that I was struggling to get through the book so much that I wasn’t taking time to marvel at the writing – and despite the mad convulations there is some fine writing. Take this, for example:
From a corner the morning hours run out, goldhaired, slim, in girlish blue, waspwaisted, with innocent hands… The hours of noon follow in amber gold. Laughing linked, high haircombs flashing, they catch the sun in mocking mirrors, lifting their arms.
The sentence occurs in the midst of a rather crazy section and is probably supposed to be parodic but I found it really beautiful
It is stuff like this that indicates that Joyce is not just crazy and can write more conventional stuff but has moved beyond it. Kind of like how abstract painters are first trained in the realistic arts. The difference between Joyce and Picasso, who are both the highest expression of modernism in their respective arts, is that paintings just take less time to grapple with. One can look at them and move on with some impression of colour, satisfied that one has seen. It is impossible to have a cursory glance at Joyce.